“The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.”
Have you heard the news stories about families getting pets during the pandemic? My family is one of them. After a couple of weeks of three adults and one teenager in isolation together, I agreed that it would be good for everyone’s mental health to adopt a dog. It took some time but finally, we found Olive, a 2 ½-year-old lab/hound rescue.
When we brought Olive home, my son had to hold the leash because I couldn’t control her. She dragged him around the yard and then refused to come into the house. After we picked her up and carried her over the threshold, she scurried through the house, got up on the coffee table and tried to eat the flower arrangement. Then she jumped on the couch… on the back of the couch…. to see out the window. She tried to get on the sofa table to get a better view. In a matter of hours, she destroyed almost every toy that we got for her, picked at every shoe, pillow, and book that she could find and then went into my bedroom and peed on the carpet. At that point, I lost it and started sobbing.
In the book of Exodus, we see the Israelites complain and whine when things are harder than they think it should be. They thought it would have been better to die than to trust that God would provide for them. When I heard that on Sunday in Pastor Greg’s message, it made me cringe a little and wonder if that’s comparable to how I reacted the night we brought Olive home. I knew that I would have to work hard with her so she could learn how to be a member of the family. And then I doubted that I could do it, or that it would be worth it. I convinced myself that it was easier to have a lonely, depressed teenager than it was to clean up dog pee or replace shoes.
Fast forward 2 months… Olive knows to stay off the tables. She has only had that one accident in the house. I’ve put my dining room curtains back up since she doesn’t pull them down anymore and all the baby gates are now back in the closets. She’s even stopped pulling the leash on her walks to the point that the neighbors have commented how good she is doing!
I hope that my kids have learned by watching me what it means to be completely afraid that you don’t have what it takes to do the job and yet you still try. We talk about it every so often… “remember how mom freaked out that first night?” Since that night I’ve been able to demonstrate empathy, compassion, and commitment, mixed with giant amounts of both humor and patience. This week I was reminded that people are watching (including my neighbors!) what I’m doing. I can only hope that God will grant me grace and give me faith in my abilities so that my actions honor him.
Gracious Father, so much is hard in this world today. We see injustice and we’re scared to try to help. We’re walking in the midst of a pandemic and we’re frustrated with our inconveniences. When we’re at our breaking point, remind us you’ve called us and will equip us to love more and do better than we could have asked or imagined. In your mighty, precious and saving Son’s name, Amen.
Written by Julie Anderson
Julie Anderson is a member of Sheridan’s Devotion Writing Team. She works part-time as Sheridan’s Children’s Music Coordinator where she is passionate about teaching children to use their musical gifts to praise God. Julie is married to Scott and counts her greatest honor as being mom to Adrienne, Eliot and Elise.